New Achievement Unlocked, Recently!

Staying overnight at school, you’re finally able to execute your master plan.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Swiping your ID card through the scanner and enjoying the momentary relief of having gained entry without mistakes, you try to avoid eye contact with Mr. Moran or any of the other teachers standing about the bridge entrance. They’ve been on high alert for days, searching for the culprit who stole the Peter Stuyesant portrait straight off of the wall. Tensions are high.

Somewhere behind you, the scanner beeps. “Can you step to the side, please?” you hear, and you don’t look back as Principal Yu begins speaking with a student. 

The idea came to you a month ago. You were dying in history, forcing your eyes open after another day of staying late for SING!, wishing you could finish your homework and get some rest before opening night. Your teacher started talking about historical figures being canceled. Someone asked, “Do you think they’re ever going to rename this school?” 

“We could refer to the school by another name and see if it sticks.”

“Yu High School?”

“Yeah, we could change our whole theme! And maybe change that painting…”

Inspiration strikes! You’re wide awake now, and you have a plan to kill two birds with one stone. You open a new Google Doc.



     People are much more willing to give you their locker combinations than you expected. You’ve compiled a list of over 120 people now, set up on a blueprint of the third and fourth floors. Throughout the next few weeks, you continue advertising this as a  Junior SING! team-building exercise,  and people are abuzz. The plan is spread through Messenger by Junior SING! Coordinator Rayen Zhou, and reads as follows:

“Hey, guys. So, as you all know, we’re running a bit behind schedule. Right now, the major roadblock is that crews are leaving early, and this kind of behavior isn’t really going to cut it anymore. That’s why I’ve directed a significant portion of our budget toward taking lessons from a professional locksmith, and after a few classes, I’m pretty confident that I know how to open every classroom in the school with a fountain pen. As long as we stay on task, we can get a lot done. Tomorrow night, we will stay in the school building for an overnight rehearsal. No one has to know. Last week, I bought about 90 sleeping bags (I know that’s not enough—you’re just going to have to fight over them), and they’ve all arrived in the SU room. I’ll make sure we get them to your lockers before sundown tomorrow.”

The next night, when the clock strikes 7:25 p.m., each crew runs amok to clean up, sharing secret smiles with each other as they squat wielding paint scrapers or haul band amps to the elevator.

The voices of the faculty advisors ring out. “You have four minutes! You better be out of the building before we start docking points!” As they lock the classroom doors behind them, Rayen appears out of the shadows, wearing a dark cape, and silently unlocks the doors behind them. He turns and motions for the props crew to follow. They all crawl into the classroom and sit down in the dark, as if in a soft lockdown, until the faculty advisors are out of earshot.

In this way, a steady rhythm comes about, with crews blasting music in various classrooms, sitting on desks and working into the late hours. Everything is going just as planned, but one more thing needs to be done to truly make this show a success. You scurry down the three-to-two escalator and stop in front of the Peter Stuyvesant painting. You brought two different kinds of drills down with you, as well as a saw and ear protection. And then, you get to work. 

The painting is lighter than you thought for a protected landmark. You heave it clumsily to the first floor, where you take out a fountain pen of your own to pick the lock of a special staircase: the staircase to the little-visited catwalk above the theater. That’s your designated hiding place for the painting until you get to drop it on stage for the show. Even Rayen doesn’t know about this, but you’re sure he’ll be elated when he sees this surprise.

There is a light breeze flowing through the catwalk. You forgot to bring a Sharpie to write another silly phrase on the gray slate of the walls, but that’s not what’s important right now. You advance, and your foot hits something solid. You’re almost afraid to look down, but curiosity gets the better of you, and you notice that it’s a can of red paint perched precariously on the edge of the walk. You suspect foul play is afoot. It’ll be a case for you to solve next time on NAUR: New Achievement Unlocked, Recently!